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Marvel's Digital Day and Date Dilemma

Written by 365Dom on Tuesday, July 26 2011 and posted in Features

Is Marvel Comics playing it too safe when it comes to day and date releases, and just who are they trying to target with their new digital comics?

The Marvel Comics App
The expansion of Marvel's digital day and date releases is fantastic news for fans of digital comic books and Marvel Comics. Marvel has already been releasing the full Ultimate line day and date, and with plans to expand to also rolling-out Spider-Man and X-Men titles Marvel has positioned itself to take a leap into the day and date pool.

Adding two of Marvel's most well recognized comic book character brands seems like a smart move since those character's titles touch so many readers and non-readers. If a non-comic-book reader thought about dabbling into comics and decided to do so by using their tablet (or other mobile device) or computer, they may be more enticed to read about a character they saw in a movie or TV show. Spider-Man, in particular, has a movie swinging into theaters next summer. The growing buzz will only add to the public recognition of the character, thus making the consumer more comfortable with the character's stories.

I get it. It makes sense, and I think it is a well thought out plan of attack. With that said...

Why doesn't Marvel want my money?

I am as excited as anyone to find out that my favorite superhero (Spider-Man) will soon be seen on my brand new iPad 2 (I'll get into why I purchased the tablet in a bit), but at the same time I realize that I will probably never buy a digital copy of Amazing Spider-Man. As a long time comic book reader I welcome the idea of having comics available in a digital form. However, I am not going to stop collecting my favorite titles in their physical paper form.

There is exactly where the heart of the problem lies for current comic book readers.

Many comic book readers have become collectors. If a reader has been purchasing a certain title for a number of years and storing them in their long boxes at home, they most likely will not stop collecting the paper form. This means they will be less likely to buy the issue twice (at full price...reduced prices are a slightly different story). For the large fan-base that already buys Amazing Spider-Man and X-Men titles at their shop (or has them delivered), the new Marvel day and date news is not only pointless but also quite frustrating.

The current reader is more likely to purchase a digital issue of a comic title that:

  • They may not collect regularly.
  • They may have heard about from a comic book review or friend.
  • They may have thought to pick-up in paper form, but their comic shop sold out of due to their shop not being sure if the book would sell well.
(Often times, shops stock-up on big titles such as Spider-Man and X-Men. While these books certainly sell out of some conservative shops, and non-conservative shops, they are less likely to sell-out on a consistent basis.)

To be fair, Marvel did announce they will digitally release number 1's in the near future of most Marvel titles; however, it was unclear if they would continue to upload the following issues of these particular new titles.

It does seem as though if Marvel is trying to cater to potential new readers, rather than making current readers happy. The mentality seems to be that current readers will buy their products no matter what, so Marvel might as well focus on new clientele rather than improving retention rate and overall experience.

The Marvel App on the iPad

I love Marvel. They are the publisher I read the most, but DC has really beaten the spandex pants off Marvel when it comes to digital comic books. DC (starting in September) will be releasing all of their comic books day and date. Not only that, but a month after the comic book issue is available, DC will drop the digital price of the issue by $1.

What a rad idea.

I actually bought an iPad 2 just so that I could take advantage of DC's new day and date services. (For those who are not into the digital idea, please try some one's iPad and just look at how the color pops and never fades...plus it's a lot easier to hold an iPad than to carry around a bunch of comics in your book-bag.) I'm not a big DC guy (and I do not collect many DC titles), but by releasing all of their issues day and date, DC is starting to win me over.

By releasing every title digitally day and date, DC makes it easier for them to get my money and easier for someone to try a new title, pick-up a sold out book and switch from being a Marvel zombie to a DC supporter.

Marvel should think of my monthly comic book spend as a market. Both DC and Marvel want to grab the largest share of that market, and the company that makes it easier for me to spend my money gives themselves a greater chance to grab the largest share of that market. Of course quality of product will come into play, but the increased ability to get a DC comic book may lead some creators to jump Marvel's ship and head over to DC where their creations have the ability to get to more eyeballs.

Comixology DC Comics App
Marvel, don't tell me it isn't easy to release a new book digitally. DC is releasing 52 books day and date in September, so I have no reason to believe you cannot, as well. The one case Marvel can make is that they are trying to at least semi-support the comic shop industry. Shops sprouted-up to give comic fans more of a selection of things comic-related. If you liked Marvel, but wanted more, you would have to go to a retailer to buy more Marvel products. Jesus, after reading that last sentence I can't help but think of the extra work getting Marvel products could involve...leaving the house and moving. Who am I...Mr. Universe?

The future is digital. Just ask a drunk (or just annoying) Thomas Jane at the San Diego Comic Con "Digital Future" panel. Marvel needs to get with the times before time has passed them by. Or not...what do I know. I'm just a guy that bought an iPad just to read more DC comics.

For more comic related posts and reviews by Dom, head on over to 365DaysofComics.com!

Written or Contributed by: Dom G

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